Written by Phyllis Richards
Batey Cinco Casas, Monte Plata, Dominican Republic – In partnership with the Rotary Club Mirador in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, the Batey Relief Alliance (BRA Dominicana) launched in December a new water project called "Saving Lives with Purified Water." "The title of this project is no exaggeration, as in the Bateyes, access to clean water can certainly mean the difference between life and death," said Dr. Jonas Rosario, BRA Dominicana's Medical Director.
Dr. Rosario added that access to clean water for Batey residents is a major institutional goal for the BRA, a grave concern in the Bateyes, and a major source of illness in the patient population. "With no potable water available, most Batey residents rely on rivers, rain, or open wells as a source of water—all of which contain water-borne pathogens," added Dr. Rosario. In recent focus groups conducted by BRA in Monte Plata, Batey residents listed clean water as their number one priority. Based on BRA's current statistics, 14% of patients who visit its Clinic at Batey Cojobal seek treatment for intestinal parasitic infections.
Dirty water carries dangerous parasites that cause a series of gastrointestinal problems including diarrhea, which in young children, can be lethal. Parasitic infections are a common cause of death in children under five and can also contribute to anemia and other health problems. While BRA has been treating water-borne illnesses for years at its health facilities, this initiative gets to the root of the problem—preventing people from getting these infections and reducing their spread within the community.
Impoverished Batey inhabitants cannot afford to buy gallons of clean water. Responding to this need, the project provides several communities with filters to purify their water. During December, Club Rotario members conducted workshops to teach BRA personnel and Batey residents the theoretical and practical skills to build and maintain the filters. Subsequently, two filters were put to work at BRA's medical center inside Batey Cinco Casas, and the rest were distributed to seven surrounding marginalized communities.
The BRA is currently working with Rotary Clubs to add funding to the project in order to distribute water filters to more families.
This project is also supported by gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing, a special mission offering of the United Church of Christ.